American History Final Exam Stages Term Paper

Pages: 10 (4609 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  Level: College Freshman  ·  Topic: American History

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Turner lived at a time before a large middle class existed or the U.S. had become a consumer society, so he naturally thought of pioneers as farmers and ranchers who moved the agricultural frontier to the West. In his era, even though the country was rapidly industrializing, the majority of people still lived on farms and in small towns. For this reason and was always the main goal of Manifest Destiny, while industrial capitalism required a different type of imperialism that acquired markets and raw materials overseas rather than colonies. Eastern capitalists since the time of Alexander Hamilton and the early Federalists and Whigs had always had a very limited interest in expanding the agrarian frontier, and even less in the expansion of slavery. They would probably have been less surprised when 20th Century-style capitalism began to appropriate terms like "pioneer" and "frontier" for entertainment and marketing purposes.

7. Speech or essay assigned since the midterm by Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Ronald Reagan, or George W. Bush.

John F. Kennedy referred to the frontier in his speech to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles in 1960, describing how the pioneers were "determined to make that new world strong and free, to overcome its hazards and its hardships, to conquer the enemies that threatened from within and without" (Kennedy 1960).

Kennedy's New Frontier was not in the West, of course, but more a rhetorical device by which he promised that the U.S. would engage on the side of 'freedom' on the global scale in the war against Communism. In foreign policy, Kennedy was at first determined to escalate the Cold War in both rhetoric and reality, including the war in Vietnam. Initially, at least, he accepted the Cold War consensus that the main task of the United States was to contain the Soviet Union, although this came under increasing criticism by leftist historians who charged that the U.S. And Russia were both expansionist empires, and that America was often the aggressor during the Cold War, attempting to impose its own system on the rest of the world. Possibly Kennedy was unaware -- or pretended to be unaware -- of the CIA interventions in Iran, Guatemala and other countries, although he could hardly have ignored the CIA plan for overthrowing the Cuban government that was presented to him in 1961. Even after this failed, Kennedy escalated the covert war against Cuba under Operation Mongoose, until the installation of Soviet missiles there in 1962 forced him to change course.

8. Essay by Barry Stephenson, John Brown, Jonathan Raban, Paul Rosier, or John Tirman

Jonathan Raban noted in Driving Home how Bernard Mahmoud had experienced life in a town in Washington State in the 1940s and 1950s, writing in A New Life about "the richness and promise of the idea of America -- and its betrayal by a mean-spirited citizenry, people too small to deserve to inherit their gigantic land" (Raban 21).

As Raban points out, today the Pacific Northwest no longer has this image of being part of the rural, evangelical culture of Old America, but is part of the new globalized version of capitalism and a haven for Rust Belt refugees. In the new global economy, physical location, size, population and domestic markets are no longer important for success, and stock exchanges no longer require a location at all. Platforms are far more important, including telecommunications, satellites, the Internet, ATM machines, and ability to communicate in English. This new world system has no borders and is often invisible, connected through cyber-technology and no longer measured in money but by multiples and derivatives. Capital flows control the world today, not central governments, and these move trillions of dollars around instantaneously.

9. How They See Us: Meditations on America, ed. James Atlas

Fernando Baez of Venezuela commented that "the United States has been hijacked by a political class with a militarist vocation that has long since surrendered, quite unconditionally, to the corporate interests that destroy the environment and manipulate the politics of entire continents" (Atlas 6).

Baez was perfectly correct in making this statement, and would have been if he had made it 100 years ago instead of in reaction against the Iraq War. The U.S. has also been very interested in the oil supplies in the Middle East since World War I, and was eager even at that time that American companies obtain a share of it -- one of this is new. For this reason, the CIA overthrew the government of Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran in 1953 when he nationalized the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (British Petroleum), and the U.S. supported the Shah until the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Iran opted out of the Cold War at that point, since its new government was hostile to both the West and the Soviet Union, and has often found itself economically and militarily isolated for the last thirty years.

10. Bruce Cumings, Dominion from Sea to Sea, chapter 13, 15 or 17.

"Empire grew out of the Western thrust across the continent by expansionists who disdained Europe, its power politics, and its colonies, desiring instead maximum, uninhibited American freedom in the world" (Cumings 391).

This seems partially true, since the overseas American Empire developed rather late, when most of the rest of the world had already been colonized, so only a few colonies like Hawaii, Samoa and the Philippines were actually available. American expansionism had to develop toward Latin America and the Pacific, and even there was in conflict with other empires that desired the same territories, including Germany and Japan. In the Philippines, independence leaders had already written a constitution and elected an assembly when the U.S. annexed the islands in 1899, resulting in a harsh war of occupation and counterinsurgency campaign that was unpopular at home. No Hawaiians ever had a chance to approve the annexation of the islands by the United States in 1898 and none had the right to vote for the new territorial government that replaced the monarchy, no more than blacks on Southern plantations or indigenous people on reservations could vote. They simply became a colony of the United States, a subject people, and so they have remained ever since.

11. Essay by Richard Rodriguez, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Ronald Takaki, Ursula LeGuin or from an essay in Half+Half by Senna, Wamba, Hongo or Thuy.

As Philippe Wamba wrote "I, too, have come to reject the idea of a simply, dualized family heritage and the simple understanding of self I internalized as a child" (Wamba 168).

As the product of a mixed marriage between an African and an American, Wamba experienced overt racism in the U.S., especially as a child, although it is also true that the country is gradually becoming a more multicultural society, and will have a minority majority by 2050. Structural and institutional racism still exist in the United States, particularly against blacks, although racist attitudes are no longer expressed as openly as they once were. In academic and professional fields like law, sociology, political science and anthropology, where racist ideas were once they norm they have long since lost all public respectability. Even so, the course of both cultural and structural assimilation has been highly uneven in the U.S., with even culturally assimilated groups like blacks and Native Americans still facing high levels of discrimination and inequality.

12. Any text selected from the materials assigned since the midterm including song lyrics or dialogue from a movie screened in class.

"Deep in my heart, I do believe / We shall overcome some day."

We Shall Overcome became world famous as one of the songs of the American civil rights movement, and later become popular in India and South Africa. Its history is somewhat obscure, although the words were written by Rev. Charles Findley of Philadelphia and the hymn was widely sung in black churches, while the music is from the 1794 hymn O. Sanctissima. Zilphia Horton of the Highlander Folk School heard black women strikers singing it in 1946 and later taught it to the famous folk musician Pete Seeger. It was later taught to the participants at the organizational meeting of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960, and from there became widely familiar to the entire civil rights movement.

Conclusion

The American Empire has passed through several stages that reflected key social and economic changes at home. In its earliest phase, the white republic basically waged a war for the control of land with blacks, Native Americans, Mexicans and any residual European influence in North America that was blocking Manifest Destiny. This was the phase of imperial expansion that Frederick Jackson Turner thought had finished around 1890. American culture was extremely racist toward nonwhites from the colonial period onward, even genocidal, and this existed long before capitalism or the creation of an urban, industrialized economy. Only when the U.S. started to become a global power after 1945 did this type of racism become… [END OF PREVIEW]

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